non-working lunch

I just came back from a “working lunch” where we listened to a speaker as we ate. This is a pretty common practice in business, where we eat but we can’t really pay attention to the meal that is nourishing us. The food was free and the speaker was engaging, but something was missing. During events like these, because our attention is split between eating and listening, we can’t bring mindfulness to either. I would like to institute a policy at my workplace where we eat in silence, much like the formal meals given at Buddhist monasteries called oryoki, then once we have given proper attention to our nourishment, we can shift our full attention to other matters. And yet, can you imagine the reaction if I suggested this? It goes against the cult of multitasking that we’ve all had to adopt. Somehow we’ve come to believe that if you can’t do two or three things well, and all at once, that there must be something wrong with you. But what really ends up happening is that we don’t do any of these mutiple tasks well, and because our attention was somewhere else, we weren’t present for any of them. So that time has slipped away, and we’ve spent it unskillfully. I say we all eat in silence, really take the time to taste, appreciate and enjoy our food, and then we can talk all we want. That way, we don’t lose time, or our lunch.

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